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What is it like to recover from Tommy John surgery?

Phillippe Aumont

Philadelphia Phillies relief pitcher Mario Hollands throws during a spring training baseball workout, Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2015, in Clearwater, Fla. Phillies pitchers and catchers begin official workouts Feb. 19. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)


Phillies reliever Mario Hollands underwent Tommy John surgery on his left elbow last April, knocking him out for the season and cutting into a part of his 2016 campaign as well. We read and hear about the surgery so often that it no longer seems like a big deal, but Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer investigated Hollands’ recovery and it really makes you feel for the ever increasing amount of pitchers requiring the procedure.

But few are prepared for the sort of mental and physical stress of a yearlong rehab. Six days a week. The same people, the same exercises. Every day. The easiest tasks, like straightening a left arm that earned Hollands more than $1 million over the last two seasons, are impossible.

“They didn’t tell me,” Hollands said, “how miserable the first three months were going to be.”

Hollands added, “It feels like I was in a coma for a year.” While he was rehabilitating in Florida, the Phillies continued their rebuilding process. Faces Holland was familiar with are now on different teams -- like Ken Giles -- and the team has brought in new players to replace them. Hollands said he was mostly alone in Florida aside from an occasional visit by his friends.

Gelb notes, at the beginning of the column, that Hollands read “probably 30 books” during his rehab process. The yearlong rehab process included seeing the same faces and doing the same exercises over and over.

That sounds like enough to drive one stir crazy. And it makes you appreciate the myriad pitchers to undergo the surgery and have to put in the hard work to get back to the majors.

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